via contra info
Two weeks ago humans were chased from their homes in Hambacher Forst. Whilst the main public focus was on the protests in the forest, already for years people have been forced out of the surrounding villages. And so also in Manheim.
Rather than only concerning local inhabitants, coal mining in the Rhineland is also a global problem.
It doesn‘t matter if it‘s a question of the dormouse seeing their old oak being destroyed, local farmers seeing their fields dry out and settlements being torn down, humans having to leave the streets in which they first learnt to ride a bicycle, or Peruvian villages being threatened by melting glaciers. All living creatures suffer in common, from this problem from the behaviour of RWE and this destructive culture in general. Multinationals like RWE and politicians need to take responsibility for this issue. If they are not willing to change their methods of energy production, then we as ordinary people are obliged to act.
We are not willing to accept the destruction of these homes, so we‘re occupying them to prevent this. In doing so, we intend to open up a space for free and self-organised living, one that encourages creativity and quality of life and supports each one another in the struggles against RWE. We demand from RWE to give those people the houses back who want to return.
Living in rural areas became attractive to a lot of humans. Far away from an anonymous life in small, unpayable flats in the concrete jungles all over the world where people can help each other, live together and where living projects of different generations can be possible.
We want to make this possible together in unity. With people who live together in Manheim since decades. With people who lived here and already left with their families. With people who came here to fight the structural destruction of nature. And with people who were forced to flee from their homes in other parts of the world, just to be chased away once again from here.
We are standing against the respectless destruction of all types of living spaces!
Let‘s make homes out of empty buildings and create new perspectives for us all.
* For further informations: www.hambacherforst.org*germanyhambach forestcategory: International
On September 28, President Trump signed a continuing resolution to extend funding for the Department of Homeland Security at the current levels until December 7. This move averted a government shutdown before the midterm elections and laid the groundwork for a bigger budget struggle over the coming months.
But perhaps one of the most significant things about the bill was what wasn’t in it.
In late August, the #DefundHate Coalition – a network of grassroots, advocacy and faith-based organizations working to defund Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) – learned that ICE was trying to attach an anomaly to the continuing resolution to increase funding for immigration detention. They were asking for an additional $1 billion to escalate their racist and abusive detention and deportation practices.
When I heard the news, I thought about Prince Gbohoutou, who was transferred to the notorious Etowah County Detention Center, hundreds of miles away from his wife and community, where the county sheriff famously earned $750,000 in profits by not feeding detainees. I thought about the pain inflicted on Gbohoutou and his wife Shaniece, on all of us who care about them, and the 45,000 people held daily in ICE custody. This infusion of money would mean thousands more could be ripped from their communities.
This isn’t the first time ICE has used loopholes to inflate its own budget. The agency routinely spends more money than is allocated, then requests a transfer of funds from other parts of the Department of Homeland Security. It then uses the inflated budget amount to begin negotiations for the following year. Further, ICE is requesting more than $8.8 billion for 2019, even as the agency’s leadership has repeatedly ignored requirements from Congress to report on its activities.
These are huge numbers with tragic consequences. ICE has a long and well-documented history of racial profiling and grievous human rights abuses. Between 2010 and 2017 alone, 1,224 complaints were filed by those in immigrant detention for sexual and physical abuse. ICE also provides substandard care, leading to injury and even death for many in custody. To give just one example, this summer, one-and-a-half-year-old Mariee Juarez died shortly after her release from the South Texas Family Residential Center due to the inadequate care she received in ICE custody. Mariee and her mother had come to the US seeking asylum. Each funding increase expands the agency’s ability to perpetuate these atrocities.
When the #DefundHate Coalition heard ICE was trying to secure additional funding through the continuing resolution, we knew we had to mobilize quickly. Within a 10-day period we met with 30 members of Congress in DC, and organized grassroots groups to put pressure on their members of Congress in their home states.
On September 11, a group of immigrants, community leaders from the border region, faith leaders and activists from the #DefundHate Coalition delivered more than 60,000 petition signatures to Sen. Richard Shelby, the chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. I shared Gbohoutou’s story, as well as others of terrible suffering in inhumane conditions in detention. Residents from the border region shared how difficult militarization and racial profiling makes their daily life. We offered prayers for compassion on the part of Congress and chants of: “No hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here” until police arrived to escort us out.
We were also working to get information on exactly how much money ICE had diverted from other agencies. Using a Freedom of Information Act request and pressure from a friendly member of Congress, we were able to obtain documentation of ICE’s transfer requests. These transfers included nearly $10 million that ICE diverted from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). As Hurricane Florence was approaching and communities were bracing themselves for a devastating storm, ICE was using money that should have gone toward helping people survive to instead hold thousands of people in cages.
Congresspeople were provided with this information as part of our advocacy efforts. On September 11, Sen. Jeff Merkley shared the FEMA story with the press. Suddenly, ICE was facing yet another scandal, and politicians who had been hesitant to come out against the additional $1 billion funding request began to shift their position.
On September 13, Senate leadership released a budget bill without the billion dollars ICE had requested. That is $1 billion that won’t go toward caging our communities. Even in a deeply reactionary political climate, with an administration intent on punishing and oppressing the most vulnerable, grassroots organizing worked.
But this is only a partial victory. The bigger struggle will be over the funding for 2019 and for the years to come. It is up to us to build on this momentum, and to demand that Congress not only refuse to increase funding, but begin to defund ICE altogether.
Following increased public attention on ICE abuses, thousands of people across the country have called for the agency’s abolition. But that change isn’t going to happen overnight. That’s why it is critically important that we pay attention to the appropriations process, and do everything we can to reduce the resources ICE has to carry out its anti-immigrant agenda right now.
Often, a considerable obstacle to cutting ICE funding is lawmakers who may claim to support immigrants but are hesitant to take a stand against the agency. We need to make it clear that it is unacceptable to sacrifice human rights in the name of political expediency.
Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets, signed petitions, made phone calls, occupied ICE offices, rallied at the border, and taken bold and creative actions to say that we will not stand for a hateful, racist agenda that cages and exiles our family, friends and neighbors. It’s time for Congress to send the same message.
The post We Stopped ICE From Getting an Extra Billion; Now Let’s Defund It Totally appeared first on Truthout.
We all tend to pay much attention to acquiring stuff – physical things – in order to be more prepared, but we often fail to prepare ourselves more, … Read the rest
The post Selco’s Favorite Survival Exercise: Prep in Your Everyday Life, Then Add PRESSURE appeared first on The Organic Prepper.
UES Republican Club Vandalized, Note Says Attack Is 'Beginning' | 12 Oct 2018 | The Republican Party's New York City headquarters was vandalized early Friday morning, and party leaders are calling the act "political violence." Vandals broke several windows of the Metropolitan Republican Club on East 83rd Street near Lexington Avenue and spray painted a symbol associated with anarchism on the club's doors. Ed Cox, the chairman of the New York Republican State Committee, told reporters that the police have launched an investigation into the vandalism. The vandals left behind a note that reads: "Our attack is merely a beginning. We are not passive, we are not civil, and we will not apologize."
Ecuador partly restores Julian Assange's internet access at embassy base | 14 Oct 2018 | Ecuador has partly restored Julian Assange's communications with the outside world from its London embassy where the WikiLeaks founder has been living for over six years, according to reports. The Ecuadorian government suspended access in March because it said Assange had breached "a written commitment made to the government at the end of 2017 not to issue messages that might interfere with other states". On Sunday, the Press Association reported that Ecuador had partly restored Assange's access to the internet, mobile phones and visits at the embassy, which had been restricted to members of his legal team.
What is North American anarchism? Is it different than anarchism elsewhere? How does it fit into the larger context of anarchism in other places?
As someone who lives in the U.S. with a certain demographic profile, some things are true about my life: it's relatively privileged. I don't frequently face violence or even discomfort. I can say whatever I want in public without worrying too much. I am meaningfully in control of my life and my circumstances. Opportunities for activity and entertainment are all around me. So where, then, do I focus my anarchism?
Should it be focused on stamping out oppression that exists in my local community? In my experience North American anarchism has largely failed at this, and badly. The predominance of white males in the anarchist community is the clearest evidence of this. There may be a few strongholds of multicultural anarchism here and there but I think it's safe to say that many non-white non-male people gravitate toward communities other than anarchism. Is it like this outside of North America?
I've often heard North American anarchism characterized by cliquishness and infighting. There do seem to be very pronounced factions with boundaries that are impossible to cross, and squabbles that are specific to North American anarchists and that seem irrelevant. Is this specific to North America? And is it because of unique circumstances of living in North America?
Which brings me to another question: why isn't there more collaboration between anarchists in North America and elsewhere? I've heard two common responses to this: that there is often a language barrier, and that it is due to the in-person nature of anarchism in general. But in a world of technology and relatively easy travel I am not happy with this answer. Isn't there something that North American anarchists can learn from anarchism elsewhere that is worth overcoming these challenges? And how might this happen?Tags: #totwNorth America#anarchy
The post Bloody Big Apple: McInness, Proud Boys, and Fox News on the Attack appeared first on It's Going Down.Report back from New York on recent clashes between Proud Boys and antifascists outside of a Republican office that has captured the eyes of the authorities and the news media.
Essential to the right-wing media narrative defending the authoritarianism of Trump is the idea that the Left is fomenting revolution and controlling the streets through mob rule. Unfortunately, nothing could be farther from the truth. The streets belong to the rich and the police, and their far-right/fascist supporters are given free reign to assault anyone who challenges that power.
The events of this weekend in NY make this situation incredibly obvious. Early Friday morning someone fed up with the Republican Party’s open acceptance of pro-fascists like Ann Coulter, Tucker Carlson, and Gavin McInnes, vandalized their door with spraypraint, glue in their lock, a brick through their window, and a communique blaming both them and the Democrats for the terror and violence spread by the US state against Latinos and Muslims.
The Republicans responded that the note and broken glass was the “worst violence they had ever seen,” and shamelessly stood behind their decision to host McInnes’s planned reenactment of the assassination of a Japanese socialist in front of his braying street gang – an event intended to incite attendees to engage in violence against leftists. As the chairman of the Republican club’s board himself stated, McInnes is “part of the Right.” The police showed up in force to protect the event, and continued to protect McInnes as he waved a sword at the counter-protesters.
Around 9 PM, three protesters were arrested, accused of knocking a MAGA hat off someone’s head. They were initially given trumped-up charges of felony assault, larceny, and resisting arrest. Prosecutors eventually knocked the charges down to misdemeanors, but still attempted to hold them on $3,500 bail each.
From @Hatewatch "Gavin McInnes poses for a photo in May 2017 with Joe Bola, a member of skinhead crew 211 Bootboys." GOP is bringing far-Right into the fold because it knows that it's class war, ecocidal, and pro-corporate policies are vastly unpopular. It needs the muscle. pic.twitter.com/84kjOftV1v
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) October 14, 2018
After the event, about fifty attendees left the under police protection. This included about 30 Proud Boys and at least two members of the nationalist, anti-communist skinhead gang 211/B49 (a group that, like the Proud Boys, tolerates a multicultural group of fascists). They assembled a block away and waited for protesters to leave. They ambushed the first three they saw, taking turns kicking and slamming them into the sidewalk.
Gavin justified the attack by claiming someone had thrown a bottle in his vicinity earlier in the evening. In reality, the purpose of the Proud Boys and Boneheads (fascist skinheads) are to mobilize violent reaction against leftists, queers, women, Muslims, and people of color. No matter how civil the protesters were, Gavin has required his Proud Boys to attack “antifa” in order to gain rank in the organization. On Friday they chose to do this in the most cowardly way possible, knowing police would not interfere despite shouting “faggot” and “kill him” as they did. Emboldened by the police support, they posed for a group photo, and walked to the subway bragging about beating up a “foreigner.”
The next day footage was posted on social media, causing outrage. Mayor de Blasio, the NYPD, the Governor of New York, and New York Prosecutors appealed to the public for tips, saying that such violence will not stand. Footage shows the opposite—the violence was protected and encouraged. Then, on Sunday afternoon, the NYPD released the names of three Proud Boys in connection to the violence. As in the recent arrests of the neo-Nazis in RAM, we know that repression of the far-Right will soon be followed by attacks on the anarchist, antifascist, and autonomous movements, and should be critical of cheer-leading actions by the State and instead focus on building up our own capacity of autonomy and self-defense.
The dude with the sword? That’s Gavin McInnes, founder of the far-right fascist gang the Proud Boys. The vandalism? No evidence that it’s “antifa.” The violence? Videos from last night show abt 20 Proud Boys beating 3 people while they’re on the ground.
This is so infuriating https://t.co/AaIM5gpmqL
— Christopher Mathias (@letsgomathias) October 13, 2018
Back on the ground, Fox News of course reported the incident in its reverse, implying sword-wielding antifa laid siege to the venue. Even with all the power of the State and fascist meathead gangs, the Right is still terrified of us. They know the youth and much of the working-class rejects their false narratives and their racist divisions, and see through the hypocrisy of their politics, and want a movement that abolishes both parties and all the fascist institutions that support and protect them. Spectacles like these will proceed until we are organized enough to run these cowards out of town.
The next opportunity will be November, when Proud Boys will assemble nationwide for a pro-Rape and anti-feminist “HimToo” demonstration.
Photo Credit @HuntedHorse
In a Trump administration where policy, on issues from taxes to education to the environment, is skewed sharply in favor of wealthy special interests and driven by officials who previously served as corporate lobbyists, and where the president himself mocks victims of sexual assault, makes common cause with racists, and seems to believe the justice system is his to manipulate for personal gain, it is unsurprising, but still appalling and alarming, that Trump and his underlings are aggressively pushing measures to stifle public protest and citizen participation in our democracy.
Start with a modest, but meaningful, example. Trump’s Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has not only stocked her senior staff roster with former officials of predatory for-profit colleges, but, forced to go through steps called “negotiated rule-making” before she can gut Obama-era rules aimed at protecting students, she has taken multiple steps to try to rig the process. In earlier meetings, she stacked the deck by filling as many negotiator slots as possible with executives of for-profit schools. Her aides also tried to block the public from live streaming the negotiator meetings on the Internet, until Department of Education lawyers told them that position was untenable. When DeVos issued her proposed rules, which gave the worst predatory schools everything they wanted, she gave the public only 30 days (mostly in August) to comment, instead of the usual 90 days.
For the latest rule-making round, announced Thursday, DeVos has eliminated negotiator spots for representatives of consumer organizations and state attorneys general — after people representing those interests acted as powerful advocates for pro-student, pro-taxpayer positions in the prior rounds, repeatedly demonstrating the bankruptcy of the Devos Department’s arguments. DeVos and her aides didn’t like hearing the truth, so they’ve eliminated the speakers. They’ve also barred the public from attending some of the meetings.
Second, a broader example, one that requires an urgent response from conscientious, freedom-loving citizens out there: The National Park Service is proposing new rules that would dramatically restrict the rights of people to hold protests in Washington, DC — barring demonstrations in front of the White House, prohibiting the use of sound systems and stages for spontaneous protests, and potentially charging high fees to stage marches and rallies.
These proposed rules would undermine our traditions of free speech and public protest. But they fit well with President Trump’s repeated attacks on people who question or demonstrate against, or even simply report on, his policies, pronouncements, and personnel. Trump doesn’t want to see protests, or have the world see protests, over his attacks on women’s rights, civil rights, LBGT rights; over his separation of parents and children at the border; over his refusal to act on climate change despite the violent storms ravaging our communities; over his efforts to undermine workers and unions; over his failure to seek reasonable gun controls; and much more. So his administration is working to curb demonstrations.
(Meanwhile, the law firm of Trump’s long-time personal attorney Marc Kasowitz is leading efforts to use anti-racketeering laws to sue Greenpeace and other groups associated with protests against energy pipelines and forest logging abuses.)
The public has only until this Monday, October 15, to tell the Park Service what you think about these anti-speech rules.
One more troubling example: Trump’s hand-picked candidate to be the Republican nominee for governor of Georgia, hard-line conservative Brian Kemp, currently serves as Georgia’s secretary of state. In that role, which includes overseeing state elections, Kemp seems to be doing everything in his power to dump people from the voter rolls for his general election contest next month against Democrat Stacey Abrams. Most recently, it was reported Kemp has frozen more than 53,000 voter registration applications — about 70 percent from African Americans — because of mostly minor discrepancies, such as a typo, between a voter’s registration info and that on their identification cards. Kemp also has purged some 1.5 million voters from rolls in recent years by labelling them “inactive.”
Kemp’s effort to cut from the voter lists people who may favor Democrats dovetails with efforts by other GOP politicians across the country to restrict voting rights, through measures like harsh “Voter ID” laws and restrictions on early voting.
If Trump and his allies are truly confident in the righteousness of their policies, why are they taking so many steps to stifle dissent, debate, and even the right to vote in our nation?
For the third consecutive year, South America slid backwards in the global struggle to achieve zero hunger by 2030, with 39 million people living with hunger and five million children suffering from malnutrition.
“It’s very distressing because we’re not making progress. We’re not doing well, we’re going in reverse. You can accept this in a year of great drought or a crisis somewhere, but when it’s happened three years in a row, that’s a trend,” reflected Julio Berdegué, FAO’s highest authority in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The regional representative of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations said it is cause for concern that it is not Central America, the poorest subregion, that is failing in its efforts, but the South American countries that have stagnated.
“More than five million children in Latin America are permanently malnourished. In a continent of abundant food, a continent of upper-middle- and high-income countries, five million children … It’s unacceptable,” he said in an interview with IPS at the agency’s regional headquarters in Santiago.
“They are children who already have scars in their lives. Children whose lives have already been marked, even though countries, governments, civil society, NGOs, churches, and communities are working against this. The development potential of a child whose first months and years of life are marked by malnutrition is already radically limited for his entire life,” he said.
What can the region do to move forward again? In line with this year’s theme of World Food Day, celebrated Oct. 16, “Our actions are our future. A zero hunger world by 2030 is possible,” Berdegué underlined the responsibility of governments and society as a whole.
Governments, he said, must “call us all together, facilitate, support, promote job creation and income generation, especially for people from the weakest socioeconomic strata.”
In addition, he stressed that policies for social protection, peace and the absence of conflict and addressing climate change are also required.New Foods to Improve Nutrition
In the small town of Los Muermos, near Puerto Montt, 1,100 kilometers south of Santiago, nine women and two male algae collectors are working to create new foods, with the aim of helping to curb both under- and over-nutrition, in Chile and in neighboring countries. Their star product is jam made with cochayuyo (Durvillaea antarctica), a large bull kelp species that is the dominant seaweed in southern Chile.
“I grew up on the water. I’ve been working along the sea for more than 30 years, as a shore gatherer,” said Ximena Cárcamo, 48, president of the Flor del Mar fishing cooperative.Julio Berdegué, FAO regional representative for Latin America and the Caribbean, in his office at the agency’s headquarters in Santiago, Chile, during an interview with IPS to discuss the setback with regard to reaching the zero hunger target in the region.Orlando Milesi / IPS
The seaweed gatherer told IPS from Los Muermos about the great potential of cochayuyo and other algae “that boost health and nutrition because they have many benefits for people,” in a region with high levels of poverty and social vulnerability, which translate into under-nutrition.
“We are adding value to products that we have in our locality. We want people to consume them and that’s why we made jam because children don’t eat seaweed and in Chile we have so many things that people don’t consume and that could help improve their diet,” she explained.
In the first stage, the women, with the support of the Aquaculture and Fishing Centre for Applied Research, identified which seaweed have a high nutritional value, are rich in minerals, proteins, fiber and vitamins, and have low levels of sugar.
The seaweed gatherers created a recipe book, “cooking with seaweed from the sea garden,” including sweet and salty recipes such as cochayuyo ice cream, rice pudding and luche and reineta ceviche with sea chicory.
Now the project aims to create high value-added food such as energy bars.
“We want to reach schools, where seaweed is not consumed. That’s why we want to mix them with dried fruit from our sector,” said Cárcamo, insisting that a healthy and varied diet introduced since childhood is the way to combat malnutrition, as well as the “appalling” levels of overweight and obesity that affects Chile, as well as the rest of Latin America.The Paradox of Obesity
“Obesity is killing us…it kills more people than organised crime,” Berdegué warned, pointing out that in terms of nutrition the region is plagued by under-nutrition on the one hand and over-nutrition on the other.
“Nearly 60 percent of the region’s population is overweight. There are 250 million candidates for diabetes, colon cancer or stroke,” he said.
He explained that “there are 105 million obese people, who are key candidates for these diseases. More than seven million children are obese with problems of self-esteem and problems of emotional and physical development. They are children who are candidates to die young,” he said.
According to Berdegué, this problem “is growing wildly…there are four million more obese people in the region each year.”A seaweed gatherer carries cochayuyo harvested from rocks along Chile’s Pacific coast. The cultivation and commercialisation of cochayuyo and other kinds of seaweed is being promoted in different coastal areas of the country, to provide new foods to improve nutrition in the country.Orlando Milesi / IPS
The latest statistic for 2016 reported 105 million obese people in Latin America and the Caribbean, up from 88 million only four years earlier.
In view of this situation, the FAO regional representative stressed the need for a profound transformation of the food system.
“How do we produce, what do we produce, what do we import, how is it distributed, what is access like in your neighborhood? What do you do if you live in a neighborhood where the only store, that is 500 meters away, only sells ultra-processed food and does not sell vegetables or fruits?” he asked.
Berdegué harshly criticised “advertising, which tells us every day that good eating is to go sit in a fast food restaurant and eat 2,000 calories of junk as if that were entirely normal.”Change of Policies as Well as Habits
“You have to change habits, yes, but you have to change policies as well. There are countries, such as the small Caribbean island nations, that depend fundamentally on imported food. And the vast majority of these foods are ultra-processed, many of which are food only in name because they’re actually just chemicals, fats and junk,” he said.
He insisted that “we lack production of fruits, vegetables and dairy products in many countries or trade policies that encourage imports of these foods and not so much junk food.”
And to move toward the goal of zero hunger in just 12 years, Berdegué also called for generating jobs and improving incomes, because that “is the best policy against hunger.”
“In Latin America we don’t lack food. People just can’t afford to buy it,” Berdegué said.
He also called for countries to strengthen policies to protect people living in poverty and extreme poverty.
According to the latest figures from the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), poverty in the region grew between 2014 and 2017, when it affected 186 million people, 30.7 percent of the population. Extreme poverty affects 10 percent of the total: 61 million people.
Moreover, in this region where 82 percent of the population is urban, 48.6 percent of the rural population is poor, compared to 26.8 percent of the urban population, and this inequality drives the rural exodus to the cities.
“FAO urges countries to rethink social protection policies, particularly for children. We cannot allow ourselves to slow down in eradicating malnutrition and hunger among children,” Berdegué said.
He also advocated for the need for peace and the cessation of conflicts because “we have all the evidence in the world that when you lose peace, hunger soars. It is automatic. The great hunger hotspots and problems in the world today are in places where we are faced with conflict situations.”
“We have countries in the region where there is upheaval and governments have to know that this social and political turmoil causes hunger,” he concluded.
The post Latin America Backslides in Struggle to Reach Zero Hunger Goal appeared first on Truthout.
Though they have wildly diverse business interests, the Koch brothers are more famous for how they spend their money than for how they make it. Koch Industries is active in asphalt products, medical hardware, construction materials, glass, fuel, cattle and fabrics used to make everything “from rugged work clothes to sexy underthings,” according to the Koch Industries website. But the breadth of the political funding they coordinate may be even greater.
Elements of the Kochs’ pro-market anti-interventionist philosophy have been thrust to the forefront of politics in recent years thanks in part to their influence. Although their political operation is sometimes portrayed as a monolithic force, tipping the scales of public opinion toward economic libertarianism and directly bankrolling their candidates of choice, a closer look reveals a more complex operation. Thanks to campaign finance laws limiting political spending, the Kochs have to find creative ways to leverage their influence effectively.
The result of these maneuverings is the “Koch network,” a web of PACs, think tanks, nonprofits and LLCs likened to an octopus by Jane Mayer, the journalist who wrote the book on the Kochs. The names of some organizations in the network, like Americans for Prosperity or Freedom Partners(which exists in several incarnations, including Freedom Partners Action Fund, Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, Freedom Partners Institute and Freedom Partners Shared Services) might seem familiar. Others, like American Encore or Concerned Women for America might not.
According to BBC, the Kochs’ total spending may hit $400 million this midterm cycle. Exactly how much of that will go to digital advertising is impossible to determine at this point, but using the tools Google, Facebook and Twitter introduced to increase digital ad transparency in the wake of 2016 election controversies gives a glimpse at which races and issues the network is currently interested in.
Based on its name alone, the Institute for Humane Studies is not a group most people would know to associate with the Koch-network or its libertarian political leanings. But the group built up by the brothers and chaired by Charles Koch paid $814,798 for “student marketing” in 2016. According to the group’s 2016 tax returns, which covers their fiscal year through August 31, 2017, the student marketing budget “introduces new audiences to the ideas of liberty through printed materials, emails, websites, direct mail, networking, and paid advertisements.”
As of October 5, the Institute for Humane Studies’ recent promoted tweets focus on city planning and zoning laws, especially in San Francisco. Promoted tweets are essentially paid-ads in the form of social media posts. Facebook has a similar promoted posts system.
One of the promoted tweets links to a video entitled “How Zoning Laws Are Holding Back America’s Cities.” In it, an economist Sandy Ikeda explains how zoning laws can drive up prices.
The video is hosted by the Institute for Humane Studies Youtube account which has additional videos in its feed entitled “Capitalism vs. Socialism Debate – Libertycon 2018” and “Your Next Government? From the Nation State to Stateless Nations.”
Meanwhile, Freedom Partners, a more visibly Koch-affiliated group, has been promoting anti-tariff tweets. One of their recent promoted tweets links to a page on the Freedom Partners website titled “Trade Builds America.” Another links to a Washington Post opinion piece that argues against tariffs imposed by the Trump administration. The piece’s author is Charles Koch.
“One might assume that, as the head of Koch Industries — a large company involved in many industries, including steel — I would applaud such import tariffs because they would be to our immediate and financial benefit,” Koch says in the piece. “But corporate leaders must reject this type of short-term thinking, and we have.”
Freedom Partners groups are also active on Google and Facebook. On Google, Freedom Partners Action Fund has bought 12 ads since the transparency tool launched. They have spent over $11,000 on advertising. Since July, their spending has increased steadily, and all ads that can be currently viewed in the transparency tool are for Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.). DeSantis received $15,000 in contributions from Koch Industries in 2016 and $5000 in 2018.
Meanwhile, on Facebook, Freedom Partners Shared Services ran more than 30 versions of an ad attacking Nevada gubernatorial candidate Steve Sisolak for taking campaign contributions. Freedom Partners Action Fund ran ads in support of Adam Laxalt, Sisolak’s opponent.
Freedom Partners also ran more than 90 promoted posts that were essentially open thank-you letters to politicians who had backed Koch-endorsed policies.
Political ads posted by a given organization can only be browsed via transparency tools if they were “promoted” as ads during or after May 2018 on Facebook and Google. The Facebook Ad Archive also kicks you off the tool if you view too many posts in a short period of time.
Still, the Facebook and Google transparency tools provide far more latitude than Twitter’s. Promoted ads on Twitter can only be viewed as far back as a week, so the Koch network’s digital ad-buys on Twitter from more than seven days ago are invisible. You can go back a little further with a paid subscription to AdEspresso University. That gets you access to a gallery with a handful of additional archived ads.
Using the AdEspresso tool, you can view a two-year-old promoted Facebook post from the Mercatus Center — of which Charles Koch is a board member and director according to the Center’s 2016 tax return — linking to an article that suggests Americans have “lost their mojo.” You can also see posts from American Energy Alliance, a Koch-funded group that according to 2015 tax documents paid i360 $116,215 for media services in 2015. i360 is a Koch-affiliated data company that builds profiles on potential voters by analyzing voting records alongside data from credit bureaus and social networks. American Energy Alliance posts support coal mining and write off subsidies for wind power as a sort of “Christmas gift” for special interests. American Energy Alliance has also provided grants to American Commitment and the 60 Plus Association, both of which are also Koch-associated.
The AdEspresso tool also reveals older promoted Facebook posts from Americans for Prosperity, the network’s flagship group. One post links to a Daily Caller article that credits fracking with reducing greenhouse emissions and another links to an Americans for Prosperity produced Ebook about the “10 biggest lies of socialism.”
Facebook’s official transparency tool retrieves over 2,000 promoted posts by Americans for Prosperity. That is not counting promoted posts by state-level versions of the group like Americans for Prosperity Utah, Americans for Prosperity Kansas, Americans for Prosperity Florida, et cet. A recent promoted post from Americans for Prosperity Illinois sounded the alarm about the Netflix tax.
According to Facebook’s transparency tool, between Aug. 31 and Sept. 16, Americans for Prosperity ran half a dozen ads against Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and in favor of her opponent Leah Vukmir(R-Wis.). In that same period, they ran five ads against Sen. Claire McCaskill (R-Mo.). The McCaskill ads were only run in Missouri, but they all cost at least $5,000. Americans for Prosperity also spent at least $500 against Sen. Susan Collins in her home state of Maine from late June to mid-July. Facebook removed an anti-Collins post because it violated their policies, though it is not clear exactly how.
Americans for Prosperity started running 22 versions of a promoted post on August 25 that invite browsers to “swipe” to see the four “most common” beliefs of past justices of the Supreme Court. These beliefs include “not seek(ing) to subvert the proper rule of law with judicial activism” and “never compromis(ing) our congressional rule of law to be ‘politically correct.’”
Occasionally the Americans for Prosperity Facebook account promotes posts linking to episodes of “Torch Talk,” a sort of chat show in which Gabrielle Broad, the organization’s national press secretary, interviews conservative politicians. The show seems to exist mostly on social media. Episodes of Torch Talk are also posted on YouTube but they are buried in episodes of a show with the same name about glassworkers who make elaborate marijuana pipes.
Over on Twitter, Americans for Prosperity has promoted four tweets in the past week as of this writing. One reads “Stop Wasteful Spending! Fish on treadmills, Hamlet performed by dogs – taxpayers have paid for some crazy stuff! Hold Congress accountable!” It links to StopOverSpending.com, a website affiliated with Americans for Prosperity.
Americans for Prosperity has spent $830,100 advertising on Google platforms and purchased 287 ads since May of this year. Their top five most viewed ads, each of which received between 1 and 10 million views, cannot currently be viewed in the transparency tool. The top four cost at least $50,000 apiece.
“While we are able to review these ads for compliance with advertising policies, due to technical limitations, we are currently unable to display the content of the ad in the Transparency Report,” says a notice displayed beneath the invisible ads.
Americans for Prosperity’s spending on Google ads has steadily increased since mid-September.
All of this barely skims the surface of the Koch digital advertising operations. There are almost certainly other Koch network groups that have promoted posts or bought ads on social networks, and there are thousands more ads from Americans for Prosperity alone available to view through the transparency tools (which are publicly available through Facebook, Twitter and Google). On top of that, the tools are seriously limited, so most pre-2018 advertisements are a mystery.
Digital advertising is only one sliver of what the Koch network does to exert its influence in Washington and beyond. In 2016, Americans for Prosperity alone spent $50,000 in lobbying and spent over $13 million on independent expenditures against Democrats.
Therein lies the trouble with examining the network. Looking at just one piece does not give you the full picture, but trying to take it all in at once is overwhelming. The only way to understand the Koch network is to look at its pieces, to go arm-by-arm and work your way toward the center. Digital advertising is a great place to start, but to really get to know the network one has to follow the money.
While most of us may be irritated but not surprised to deal with misogyny in our day-to-day lives, we don’t expect to experience it within our supposedly “woke” environmental organizations. Alongside the commitment to saving the planet from abuse, we’d like to assume preventing abuse and microaggressions between our comrades would also be a priority. Unfortunately, that has not necessarily been the case.
Both the deep green movement and the environmental movement at large have at times struggled to respond to sexual violence and abuse among their ranks in an appropriate, effective, and supportive manner. The history of responses to such incidents indicates that internal policies need to be backed up by clear, and at times public, communications about incidents of harassment, abuse, and assault. This communication must coincide with clear support for survivors who come forward.
Unfortunately, power dynamics within the green movement impact who receives this support. One way in which the patriarchal dynamic is perpetuated within the radical green movement, for instance, is in how tasks are often relegated during direct actions. While men do more of the physical and visible direct-action work, women are often expected to “do the housework” behind the scenes — wash dishes, act as secretaries, cook the meals, and gather food. Additionally, men who have vital skills for the movement often share those skills only with other men, which perpetuates the pattern of “active” and “passive” gendered roles. Thus, women consistently are expected to act as the “agents” for male activists, who take the role of “celebrities.” This kind of systemic misogyny enables violence against marginalized women and trans people, and protects abusers and misogynists.
Boudicca, who was involved in radical environmentalism in the Pacific Northwest in the early 2000s and whose name has been changed to protect her identity, says call outs of abusive behavior often tend to be ignored by movement members if the person making the accusation is seen as less socially “vital” to the community. (Call outs are a way anarchist groups, which don’t believe in the State, hold their members accountable instead of filing charges or going to the police.) Such complaints would only garner attention if “a socially ‘rich’ person joined the fray,” she says. And inevitably, an accusation of abuse would end up highlighting the various ways misogyny was impacting the group, with survivors being seen as suspect and urged to stay quiet for the sake of the movement. This mimics a larger social expectation that women should remain silent about direct and indirect misogyny in order to protect leadership, often male.
Let’s look deeper at one such example.
Rod Coronado, a 52-year-old Native American of Yaqui heritage, is something of a folk hero to many in the radical movements. These days, Coronado leads Wolf Patrol, a group that eschews Earth First!-style monkey-wrenching and observes and documents wolf hunts in the US with the goal of exposing the cruelty of wolf hunting. But back in the 1990s he was a key part of “Operation Bite Back,” a nationwide campaign waged by the Animal Liberation Front, against the fur industry.
In 1995 Coronado was sentenced to 57 months in prison for destroying equipment at Michigan State University’s animal testing research facilities. In early 2006, he was convicted again for explaining, during a 2003 lecture in San Diego, how he made the incendiary devices he used in his arsons. Another charge related to the talk in San Diego was brought in 2007. He pled guilty to these charges and accepted a deal for a one-year prison term that ended in December 2008. But there are other serious charges against Coronado circulating within the movement that he has been doggedly evading. These have to do with his supposedly predatory behavior.
Reports about Coronado’s sexual misconduct first surfaced in the summer of 2014, when a group of activists started raising concerns about his reportedly abusive behavior. We’ve reviewed emails sent between July 2014 and February 2015, which claim Coronado had been violent towards an ex-partner. The emails also assert that Coronado had been predatory towards younger women in EF!.
Wendy, loosely affiliated with EF! between 2005-2014, told us via email about her involvement in bringing Coronado’s behavior to light that year. She, and two EF! activists, Panagioti and Toby, tried several times to get Coronado to initiate an accountability process. Coronado appeared open to this at times, but never followed through. While the trio were trying to figure out the best course of action, in November 2014, Coronado apparently sexually assaulted a younger Wolf Patrol member named Julie.
When Wendy heard about Julie’s experience, she felt “a stark clarity of Fuck, we made the wrong choice.” She says the three of them had failed to grasp the urgency of the situation, particularly the risks they took by waiting to alert the broader community about him.
Julie, too, wanted a public call-out of Coronado, this time on the EF! Journal newswire. After a prolonged, painful debate among movement members, the magazine published an interview where Julie outlined the story of her relationship with Coronado, eventual rape, and the subsequent backlash and victim-blaming. (Full disclosure: The interview was done by one of the authors of this piece).
While many in the movement offered solidarity and support, others, including Coronado, called Julie everything from a liar to a snitch who was using FBI-style tactics. Brett, a former member of Wolf Patrol, shared Julie’s statement on Facebook in March 2015. After doing so, he reportedly received an email from Lauren Regan, the executive director of the Civil Liberties Defense Centre in Eugene, Oregon. In the email, Regan suggested that sharing Julie’s statement on Facebook, a platform monitored by the FBI, was “the equivalent of snitching” on a former political prisoner like Coronado.
In November 2016, Julie wrote a personal account in Earth First! Journal of the assault and “the most bizarre and confusing in-fighting” that followed. The account included the original statement that Brett and others had shared a year and a half earlier. She wrote:
“This assault didn’t happen in a dark alley. He didn’t grab me by the hair and shove me into a closet and put his hand over my mouth. That would be easier to comprehend, easier to forgive myself. No. Rod was my friend. I thought we had established a great working relationship. I thought he respected me as a comrade, that we got shit done together. He was my friend. That’s what makes this so incomprehensible. He was my friend.”
For Julie, speaking up was about making the movement safer. After all, Coronado had put her and others at risk by his actions. Over email in July, Julie wrote that she spoke up because staying silent was enabling “Rod Coronado to continue to use the movement as his platform, as his hunting ground.” She also wanted the movement, including the EF! Journal, to offer unequivocal survivor support. She is ambivalent about whether this happened. “It depends on how much you know of the situation,” she wrote. “Did the EF! Journal appear to [offer support], after we pressured and pressured? Yes. Did we go thru our own trauma trying to make that happen? Yes.”
The publication of her interview didn’t lead to further call-outs in the EF! Journal of other possible perpetrators in the movement. Meanwhile, Coronado continues to run Wolf Patrol. (Earth Island Journalran a cover story on Wolf Patrol in its Winter 2016 issue. At the time the editors were unaware of these allegations against Coronado.) Julie continues to feel the repercussions of Coronado’s actions. According to a recent report in The Intercept, Julie was targeted by an FBI agent in February 2018, who was trying to exploit the current #metoo movement as a way of pressuring Julie to become an informant against Coronado or other environmental activists. This example underscores the disruptive nature of abusive and harassing behavior in the environmental movement. In addition to reducing organizational effectiveness, such behavior can leave groups, and survivors like Julie, vulnerable to heightened levels of state interference.
While the Coronado Case is a pretty clear illustration of how #MeToo has been necessary to move forward public discussion of these difficult issues and to hold offenders accountable, it is not the only such incident by any means. Neither are sexual harassment and violence, or the tendency to ignore them, limited to the radicals within the environmental movement.
Take, for instance, the February resignation of Humane Society of the United States President and ceo Wayne Pacelle following allegations that he had sexually harassed three female subordinates. Interestingly, Pacelle quit a day after the HSUS board voted to allow Pacelle to retain his job and Board Chair Rick Bernthal announced that the board “did not find that many of these allegations were supported by credible evidence.” (The vote did lead to the immediate resignation of seven HSUS board members in protest.) Pacelle is now working with Animal Wellness Action, a new political action committee whose executive director, Marty Irby, is a former colleague of Pacelle’s at HSUS.
Greenpeace is another big green group hit with sexual harassment scandals at its international offices in recent years. In 2015, a former employee of Greenpeace India spoke out in a blog post about her experiences of sexual harassment, rape, and misogyny in the organization’s New Delhi office, opening up a can of worms that revealed that senior staff at Greenpeace India had not only ignored earlier complaints against a serial sexual harasser, they had gone so far as to label one of the women who had complained about workplace sexism as “hysterical” and “menopausal,” and had advised her to see a psychologist. That woman eventually quit. Due to the public outcry that followed the 2015 blog post, Greenpeace India’s executive director and communications director were forced to resign.
Prieto, who was also responsible for Greenpeace’s offices in Chile and Colombia, was suspended after more than 40 former Greenpeace employees and volunteers wrote a letter accusing him of “discrimination and gender-based violence, abuse of power against female employees, sexual harassment, workplace harassment and bullying.” Previously, Greenpeace Argentina’s head of logistics had been dismissed over similar accusations.
In June this year, Greenpeace International executive directors Jennifer Morgan and Bunny McDiarmid made a commitment to survivors of sexual harassment in the organization that they would ensure “all cases, no matter when they occurred, are appropriately considered and responded to.” They listed multiple ways in which they planned to fulfill that promise, including increasing the number of women in senior leadership positions and following through on their zero-tolerance position around “harassment, bullying, and discrimination.”
It is clear that a viral focus on misogyny and abuse has impacted environmental groups in a significant way. Victims are beginning to speak up and they are, to quite an extent, being listened to. Many organizations are making renewed commitments to taking action around misogyny in the workplace that goes beyond setting up official policies. As Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune wrote in his essay “#MeToo Moments in the Outdoors” in March, “If anything has become clear during the past year, it’s that official policies are not an end solution — they are merely a starting point. To eliminate harassment will require confronting and rejecting the toxic culture that tolerates and encourages violence against women.” The group aims to manifest that confrontation in multiple ways, including anti-oppression training and partnering with their labor unions to “create new policies that define and establish accountability for toxic behavior among our staff,” says Kerry O’Donnell, Sierra Club’s human resources director.
But it is also clear that there is a long way to go until systems for victim-centered and anti-oppressive accountability are in place. Continued efforts to eliminate misogyny in these spaces will take work, care, and a desire to see growth — just like any seed planted in rocky soil, it cannot blossom without consistent care. May we live to see women in the environmental movement given the safety they deserve, and treated with the same respect that we seek to show Mother Earth.
Last names have been withheld to protect identities.
The post Addressing Sexual Violence and Misogyny Within the Green Movement appeared first on Truthout.
When the defense team for Jason Van Dyke, the former Chicago cop who last week became the first in decades to be convicted for a killing while on duty, painted young black male Laquan McDonald as a “monster” during the trial, they were defending not just Van Dyke but the practice of policing in America.
The jury’s guilty verdict was a rejection of the ways police have interacted with black communities — and a significant foothold in the fight for transformative justice in Chicago.
But that initial step pales in comparison with the wrongs that the Van Dyke case revealed. He was a cop who had a history of complaints, including racism — issues that didn’t start in Chicago with him.
The history of the Chicago Police Department reflects that of so many others in America, and makes it clear that law enforcement has been a driver of injustice. Over the past 50 years, major scandals have rocked the CPD that show the department has targeted and worked hard to control black and brown communities. The department killed Black Panther Illinois chapter chairman Fred Hampton. Late Chicago police Commander Jon Burge‘s department was tied to the torture of black and brown people for decades with impunity. Both of these scandals occurred long before Van Dyke’s.
The instances we’ve heard about from CPD, the ones that get national attention, are only the tip of the iceberg. Chicago needs a public truth-telling project in the vein of truth and reconciliation commissions to document the intergenerational harm CPD has imposed on black and brown communities — and it must be led by the people most affected by police violence.A History of Corruption, Violence
In the defense’s retelling of what happened between McDonald and Van Dyke, McDonald was no longer a teenager or even a person. Instead, he was a “whacked-out,” knife-wielding threat. The defense urged the jury to remember that McDonald didn’t appear to be a Boy Scout. Van Dyke called McDonald an aggressive threat with “huge white eyes” and a “dead soul.”
After the public release of the McDonald video in 2015, the Department of Justice announced a wide-ranging investigation of the Chicago Police Department focused on police accountability, use of force and racial disparities. The final report documented systemic racism and deficiencies in CPD operations including at least 51 instances of aggravated battery, 42 counts of reckless conduct and at least 24 counts of obstruction of justice.
The CPD uses force against young black men approximately 14 times more than against young white men, according to the Invisible Institute. It targets young black women with force 10 times more frequently than white women and two times more frequently than white men.
Even the most mundane department activities indicate racial bias — more than half of all bike tickets issued by CPD were in majority black neighborhoods. Only 18% were given in white neighborhoods.
That history of corruption and violence made the guilty verdict a historic moment in the Movement for Black Lives and one that was brought about by black youth’s relentless demands for accountability and justice.
After McDonald’s death, Chicago’s young black people shut down the streets, occupied city hall, and crafted powerful messages demanding justice and accountability and exposing CPD as racist and corrupt.Alternative Justice Long Overdue
While DOJ documentation supports the call for change, it’s not enough to merely document the harm CPD has imposed upon Chicago. True healing requires changing police systems and policies. And that the proposed ordinance for a Civilian Police Accountability Council — an elected body of Chicago residents that would push to keep city police in check — becomes law.
This idea might sound radical, but the reality is that elected boards control part or all of many state functions — from education to the judiciary, from water reclamation to the county sheriff. Why shouldn’t a civilian board be permanently responsible for ensuring that law enforcement stop abusing city residents? Policing is not more specialized than education or water purification. Those who reject community control of the police are likely too invested in the police existing to control the community.
But it’s also not enough to ensure that bad cops are disciplined. Chicago must overhaul its entire public safety system from one that’s punitive to one that is proactive and stems from the desire to heal.
Chicago’s leaders must focus on investing in communities and diverting people away from the formal justice system. Strategies like restorative justice and community conferencing allow people in conflict to acknowledge and repair harm without the life-destroying consequences of a conviction. Interruptions like pre-arrest diversion allow officers to divert people in crisis — people like McDonald — to care providers as opposed to the county jail.
Racist police practices are historical, systemic and seemingly intractable. Where they exist — justice cannot.
The harm perpetuated by the CPD on Chicago’s black and brown communities has a depth and a width that could never be addressed through a single jury verdict.
Even so, the Van Dyke verdict demonstrates that through the work of black organizers, the seeds of transformative justice have been planted and could be belatedly ready to bloom.
Public truth-telling about the CPD, true community control of the police, and justice system diversion initiatives are long overdue.
This article was originally published in USA TODAY.
The post In Convicting Van Dyke, Chicago Jury Rejected Broader Policing Norms appeared first on Truthout.
From Act For Freedom Now!
Recently, as I was reading the report on the hearings of the trial that we are facing following the Turin investigation “Scripta Manent”, staged by prosecutor Roberto Sparagna, I noticed an explanation regarding the keylogger (or Agent Elena, as the miserable Naples ROS called it).
A text that appears in some sites says that a keylogger was allegedly used to intercept off-line comments during RadioAzione live recordings. That would be nice, but unfortunately the reality is different.
The keylogger was a proper bug, sent to my PC via internet through a virus, and it was capable of intercepting everything around my computer. It was sufficient for the computer to be connected to the internet and the miserable ones were able to hear all audio nearby (no video because the webcam has always been blocked out).
So, because I have my PC in my bedroom they listened not only to radio off-line comments but even more… everything in fact!
Moreover it was used to create screenshot sequences of my desktop while I was writing texts or translating those of other comrades, which were subsequently published in the RadioAzione website. All this for six years in a row, in spite of the fact that I formatted my PC on a number of occasions.
I really wanted to make this clarification because the way it was described in the text in the trial report it could be misunderstood. We could all have a keylogger in our PC (even if it costs them 120 euros per day… unless they inflated the invoices contained in the investigation papers) and so it’s better to know how it works.
Therefore my advice to those who think they could have one of those installed in their computer is to switch it off when they are not using it, and avoid talking in the area where it is connected.
Erroneously I had linked an external mic to a mixer, as I thought that if it was on “Mute” it wouldn’t intercept the audio, but it was pointless. Through keylogger they activate the mic inside the computer.
Remember to disconnect the internet before you write a text or translate one.
Somma Gioacchino (RadioAzione)
Dolphins are beautiful, highly intelligent and uncannily human in their interactions. Yet, they also have a language we humans cannot fully hear, and a culture that is in some ways similar to our own, and in others, a complete mystery.
Like us, they have circles of friends and acquaintances, with different greetings for different individuals, as if by name. They travel swiftly within a home range of about 100-square kilometers but can go further when they want to. They have the sleek design of a jet plane fuselage and the intelligence that comes with a 1,600-gram complexly structured brain. (The human brain is 1,300 grams.)
Found in almost all the world’s oceans, they communicate with friends and family through clicks and whistles, and echolocation allows them to view the world around them. They pass on knowledge of culture and tools through the generations from mother to daughter, a matrilineal line that preserves and protects their heritage.
Approximately 40 species of dolphins exist. Many belong to the Delphinidae (ocean dolphin) family, including the orca; others live in rivers. Collectively, there are approximately 90 species of cetaceans, the order comprising whales, dolphins and porpoises.
Scientists analyzing the dolphin brain have determined that, like us, they possess a very complex neocortex — a region of the brain linked to awareness, emotions, problem-solving and other human-like abilities. Further, the limbic (emotional) system in some species is even more complex than humans.
These sensitive creatures have made the headlines in the past few months. An endangered orca known as Tahlequah mourned the tragic loss of her baby, carrying her dead calf for a record 17 days and 1,000 miles on what some have deemed a “tour of grief.”
Shortly following Tahlequah’s tragedy, the Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit against the National Marine Fisheries Service regarding the species of orca on the West coast of the US that has become critically endangered. The suit alleged that the agency has neglected to establish habitat protection for the orcas. With only 75 of these orcas left, the population is the lowest it has been in 30 years.
Meanwhile, a combination of factors is threatening the very survival of these animals.Genetics and Pollution
A recent study published in the journal Science delivers a serious warning as to the likelihood that dolphins and other marine mammals could be extirpated by pollutants. The discovery concerns an evolutionary change to DNA approximately 53 million years ago, which makes cetaceans particularly sensitive and therefore vulnerable.
Their bodies underwent various gradual changes during this evolutionary period. One of these changes was the alteration of DNA that codes for a particular enzyme known as PON1. Scientists believe the enzyme’s metabolic processes were no longer needed for a life underwater. Terrestrial mammals, by contrast, maintained the intact DNA and its enzyme, which humans have to this day.
But 53 million years later, the genetic change has become marine mammals’ Achilles’ heel, thanks to human invention. The enzyme has a second function — an ability to defend against neurotoxins found in pesticides. Without PON1, these animals are unable to break down the neurotoxin and can be poisoned.
Dolphins and other sea creatures with the PON1 problem are thus defenseless against agricultural runoff containing pesticides. Part of the reason the endangered infant orcas off the coast of California are having trouble is this kind of pollution. Marine mammals by the Florida coast are at risk as well, as scientists sampling waterways have found significant levels of chlorpyrifos pesticide contamination.
Dolphins have also been disappearing from areas around the globe they once inhabited, such as off the coast of Argentina. There, where dolphins were once common, only “a single resident population” is believed to be left. Heavy metal contamination and overfishing are likely contributors the decline. Elevated levels of lead, zinc, copper and cadmium have been found in mollusks, crustaceans and sea lions, as well as elevated levels of mercury, cadmium, zinc and copper in bottlenose dolphins. Metals pass from mother’s milk to the baby, resulting in the newborn dolphin having a weakened immune system and a lower probability of survival. The bottlenose dolphin is believed to be a common species globally, and consequently, people are less concerned about the threat to the species, yet in certain localities these dolphins are quietly disappearing, as along the Argentinian coast. Scientists warn that the Argentina study “provides an example of how the failure to recognize local population declines can threaten the national (and eventually the international) status of a once common marine species.”
To be sure, dolphins are facing similar toxic threats around the world. While metal pollution off the coast of Argentina is assumed to have resulted from decades-old mine waste, it is by no means unique to South America. Scientists examining the waters of Lake Geneva, Switzerland, discovered high levels of toxic metals including bromine, lead, mercury and cadmium. The toxins came from plastics, some of which had been banned or restricted decades ago, indicating the toxins remain in the environment for years. Plastic pollution is especially pervasive in oceans that dolphins inhabit – estimated at 150 million metric tons, with 8 million more tons added annually. Tellingly, a Malaysian dolphin was found dead after digesting nine pounds of plastic bags.
Chemicals can have a lasting and sometimes irreversible impact on the environment. Without containment, poisons that were banned years ago seep out of landfills, into streams and oceans, permanently contaminating water. For some species, a death sentence has already been assured. Change has come too late for the orca variety of dolphin, also known as the killer whale. This is the sad revelation recently published in the journal Science regarding polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and orcas. PCBs banned more than 30 years ago have leached into the oceans, and killer whales as apex predators are “the most PCB contaminated mammals in the world,” say the researchers, who found some of the killer whales had 1,300 milligrams per kilo of PCBs in their blubber – 50 milligrams per kilo has been shown in previous research to be sufficient to cause infertility and serious immune system problems. As with metals, mothers pass the PCBs on to their babies through milk. The researchers predict that “PCB-mediated effects on reproduction and immune function threaten the long-term viability of [more than] 50% of the world’s killer whale populations.” They forecast a population collapse of orcas near industrialized regions, as well as in regions where orcas feed on larger prey. In short, half of the world’s orcas will be gone in just a few decades.
Some dolphin species are already very close to extinction. The Yangtze River dolphin, also known as “baiji,” has lived in the river for 20 million years. There were thousands in the 1950s, but in the year 2000, there were a mere 13. By 2006, scientists pronounced the species extinct after an unsuccessful six-week hunt by conservationists. Its current status is either extinct or near extinction — in 2016, some amateurs believe they may have seen a baiji, although they are not certain. The baiji would be the first dolphin made extinct by humans, in this case through pollution, dam-building, overfishing and boat traffic.
Dolphins face threats from climate change as well. Twelve dolphins were washed ashore in one week this summer in Florida, as a result of a red tide disaster, due in part to rising temperatures, with six killed in 24 hours. Such numbers have usually been an annual loss in the past.
Dolphins face a particular and cruel peril in Japan. The town of Taiji holds an annual dolphin “drive hunt” in which more than 1,000 dolphins are massacred each year. Hunters find a pod of dolphins and first create a clamor to disrupt the dolphins’ sonar, upsetting the dolphins and driving them into a cove, where they are then killed one by one, as the water in the cove turns red.
Even when dolphins are captured and kept in captivity, they react to their surroundings.Dolphin Intelligence and the Future of the Animal Population
That dolphins are highly emotional is well-known. Peter — a dolphin kept in captivity after being moved to a smaller facility and permanently separated from the regular keeper he loved — fell into depression. Dolphins do not breathe air automatically the way humans do; each breath must be made consciously. A dolphin who has lost the will to live does not swim to the surface for his next breath. This was the fate of Peter; imprisoned and friendless at the new facility, he did not swim up for air and was found lifeless on the tank floor.
The emotional intelligence of dolphins reveals that trauma and separation will hurt dolphin families for years to come. The bloody waters of Taiji might hold the carcasses but not all the casualties. The many Peters of the world, having lost loved ones forever, can also lose the will to live.
At the 2010 annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, scientists pondered the ethical and policy implications of dolphin intelligence. Neurobiologist Lori Marino argued that they may be Earth’s second-smartest creature. One can only agree.
A philosopher at the meeting proposed that dolphins perhaps ought to be considered “nonhuman persons.” He marvels at how, in addition to emotions and self-awareness, dolphins have personalities, exhibit self-control and even treat others ethically.
If a dolphin species becomes extinct, we lose not only a beautiful animal but a society and its culture. Dolphin habitat often spans the seas of many countries. Preserving them at home only to have them slaughtered on another shore is heart-wrenching. Preserving them abroad only to see them poisoned by pollution here is equally tragic. Countries must work together to ensure the survival of dolphins who swim beyond our borders, particularly as risks are compounded by climate change and pollution. The killing of whales for commercial purposes has been banned for many years. At the very least, this can be extended to their cousins now that we know they are under threat.
Pesticide use has to be regulated, particularly along the coasts to minimize PON1-related neurotoxic poisoning. Allowing a 53-million-year-old Achilles’ heel to be shot with the dart of human invention would be a tragedy. Minimizing plastic pollution is essential to dolphins as well. Preventing further PCB leakage into the oceans must also be a priority to save the orca populations, half of which are already facing collapse due to PCB-poisoning.
We have already witnessed the long-lasting effects of chemical runoff, from the decades-old plastic-derived toxins in Lake Geneva, to the 30-year-old PCBs seeping into oceans around the world. Once waters are contaminated, no one can go back. It is already too late for some orcas. Consequently, while we still can, we must prevent further contamination.
If nations can work together to minimize ocean pollution and affect laws to prevent chemical runoff, perhaps then Tahlequah and her fellow orcas will have greater success with the next generation of calves, and hopefully, our own children and grandchildren will continue to know the pleasure of seeing an orca or a bottlenose dolphin leap magnificently from the ocean.
The post How Genetics and Pollution Are Threatening Wild Dolphins appeared first on Truthout.
From Kurdish Solidarity Network (obituary of an anarchist in Rojava)
This epitaph was written by a friend and comrade of Şahin / Waka / Farid
Şehîd Şahîn Qereçox, known as Waka to his many friends, was sadly martyred in the fight against Daesh in Hajin on 6th October. He had been serving in the YPG, fighting for the revolution in Rojava for 4 months. For as long as I’d known him he was a loving comrade and a true revolutionary. I’m still struggling to find the words to describe him – he was so thoughtful and creative he defied simple generalisation. Whatever I write will merely scratch the surface of what he meant to me and so many people.
I will never forget his brave actions and efforts fighting for a world he knew was possible. One free from oppression, patriarchy and ecocide where people live cooperatively in the spirit of mutual aid instead of being made atomised and afraid by capitalism. He was always willing to risk repression or police violence defending what he believed in. In Hambacher Forest, Germany, he never hesitated putting himself in harm’s way to stop the exploitation and destruction of the earth. In Pont Valley, England, his creativity and hard work put fire in a campaign to defend communities and wildlife from opencast coal mining. Şahîn’s resourcefulness made him a valuable member of every community he was in. He was often hard at work building structures, cooking and just making the whole space more welcoming for everyone to enjoy themselves. He always brought his charming wit to every conversation and you could learn a lot from what he had to say.
His temperament was never aggressive, nor was he keen on physical confrontation and initially it was a surprise to hear he wanted to fight with the YPG. But actually, thinking about his many other brave exploits, it shouldn’t at all have been a surprise that he would fight for what he believed in this way. His unwavering courage and self-discipline without falling into macho behaviours is one of the many things for which I admired him.
This was one of the things that made him a true revolutionary – he knew a revolution isn’t just something you make or build, it’s something you do and it’s a part of who you are. Everything he did was very consciously and unapologetically political. He never shied away from criticising his own behaviour or that of his comrades. He wanted to make the most of every day of his life and any spare moment was spent learning a language, training, reading and sharing new ideas. A week or so before he died he was made co-commander of the YPG International Tabur and he was steadfastedly motivated in training not only everyone’s physical condition, but also building the revolutionary culture in the unit.
One treasured memory I have of him before he came to Rojava was when we were hitchhiking together in Europe. I remember no matter who gave us a lift he would immediately engage with them in conversation as if they were an old friend. He was always keen to talk about his ideas and never felt the need to be dishonest about his beliefs. His disarming friendliness and honesty left everyone we encountered on that journey fond of him, even if they had met him all too briefly.
I would like to send this message in memory of a true heval. A land defender, hunt saboteur, anarchist, expert hitchhiker & dumpster diver, revolutionary, friend, and a beautiful comrade. I only regret I didn’t tell him all this to his face, but the fight for freedom goes on and I will do so in his memory, inspired by everything he did and everything he taught me.
Şehîd namirin.Tags: RojavaobituaryYPGcategory: International
From C4SS by William Gillis
This week we celebrated the 12th anniversary since the founding of the Center for a Stateless Society. It’s been a wild ride, with many ups and downs. But somehow we’ve managed to build one of the most successful sites of anarchist discourse since the journal Liberty shuttered in 1908. We have become, as weird as it is, something of an institution.
A weird and fractious institution filled with quite varying perspectives — as the symposiums we have hosted on property, democracy, and antifascism only highlight. But a convivial institution nonetheless. I like to think of us as a walled monastery where defectors from ideological war machines can escape to, to collaborate in wide discussion while keeping our principles and conscience.
There is an unspoken mantra particularly popular in this era that goes something like this,
There are only two teams and the enemy team can never have or stumble upon good ideas or valid critiques. Anything that pisses off the enemy team is good, and the more it pisses them off the better it is. Any point that could be used rhetorically by the enemy team is bad.
Two years ago, while we were celebrating our ten year anniversary, a self-proclaimed “libertarian” organization released a video of a talk wherein Walter Block, a founder of “Libertarians for Trump” and apologist for eminent domain, declared that we deserved “an even lower ring of hell” and the “race realist” Hans Hermann Hoppe proclaimed us to their audience as, “Our biggest enemies.”
We deserve such virulent condemnation and focus, they argued, because of our apostasy, because we had the gall to read their holy books and still find them wanting, to continue the investigations of certain historical figures beyond where they stopped. Such ire is hardly new, but has rained constantly upon us over the last decade from reactionary elements in both the tribes of libertarianism and the left.
One doesn’t have to reach very far to find absurd denouncements of us as fascists or bolsheviks because we have the temerity to consistently oppose power regardless of the flag it flies. We pose a danger precisely because our mere existence overturns the false dichotomies so many wish to impose.
We think more is needed to cultivate and undergird a freed society than a simplistic checklist of obvious property violations. We think compassion and intolerance for all modes of exploitation or domination obliges solutions coherent with those values, never through the guns of the state. We believe in markets not out of some elaborate self-delusion that the privileges and norms of our economy would continue and be strengthened without the subsidy of the state’s systemic violence, but because the entire promise of markets is their unparalleled capacity to satiate and fulfill all. We believe in egalitarian relations not out of some leveling collectivism that would discard and ridicule individual liberty in the interest of simplistic abstract conflicts and their would-be managers, but precisely because we recognize the interdependence of our freedom with that of others.
We are apostates, loudly denounced as corruptors and entryists by all sides. And yet we are winning.
On March 20th, 2003, while locked down to a bridge protesting the invasion of Iraq, I took the time to engage with a nutty counter-protester from the Free State Project wearing a sandwich board. While the cops endlessly circled preparing to bust heads the two of us argued into the wee hours of the morning. While he was wrong on many issues, I engaged with him in good faith and ultimately came away unsettled by some of his points. I thought myself a good leftist, a good anarcho-communist, but I was infected by a need to turn into the uncomfortable, to hold my beliefs to the flames of contrary perspectives, even those of the most absurd out-group. And so when I got home I stayed awake the whole night reading the texts of the Out Group. And suddenly I was reading Hayek and Mises and Coase and Ostrom and Rothbard and Friedman and Konkin and so on. Hungering to find new hard questions to ask myself from every angle. When I finally emerged from that crucible I found myself without a home. If few on either side had taken it upon ourselves to sneak across ideological borders and trade ideas with The Enemy, fewer still had survived the patrols, the immigration police, and the wall-builders.
In the years since I’ve watched a handful of solitary exiled voices marooned in the wilderness find each other and then become a community of dozens and then a broader milieu of thousands.
The Center for a Stateless Society has become the flagship of this renegade fleet, a symbolic center for an ever growing centerless network.
On average we take in no more than a few hundred dollars each month from small donations.
But we spend that money producing features and editorials every month. We’ve built contacts and respect that has gotten our editorials published in countless newspapers in countries around the world. We do translations into 15 other languages and publish regular original commentary in Portuguese and Spanish, with a full translation of Studies In Mutualist Political Economy just released. Markets Not Capitalism was published seven years ago and in the time since has had a significant impact upon radical political discourse; today we have nearly half a dozen other books in production. We publish lengthy detailed studies and facilitate symposiums. We mass produce zines and booklets for distribution and table at activist and academic events around America. We give talks and serve on panels at countless conferences.
We do all this on next to nothing.
Imagine what we could do with more.
Political discourse right now is hopelessly tribal. Good ideas get locked up in protective fortresses and echo chambers, suspicious and hostile to anything that smacks of The Other. We have one of the most astonishing track records in the world at tearing down these walls and in their remains cultivating the best insights from either tradition, growing a sprawling garden toward liberty.
Every month we scrimp and cut corners, our core staff sometimes paying what they can out of their own cobwebbed pockets to keep the ship afloat. We’re not going anywhere. But every dollar donated allows us to go that much further. We’re working hard to get central texts translated into dozens of languages where left market anarchism or even anarchism have no real presence. We’re working to get our books into libraries around the world. And we’re working to pull in more diverse or international contributors and facilitate conferences and seminars. There are different ways you can volunteer or contribute, but many of these undertakings fundamentally require money.
If you like the work that we do, if you want to see radical politics unafraid of discourse and engagement outside tightly policed tribes, but still capable of drawing consistent principled lines, please consider donating today. We have a lot of exciting new projects lined up, but a lot more that we could take on with the right funding.c4sslooking backreflectionswilliam gilliscategory: Essays
From Sprout Distro
The following zines were published in the past month. We hope that this post is useful and that the increased visibility of these zines contributes to the spread of anarchist ideas. We have heard of folks printing off these zines and sending them to prisoners, using the list as a basis for reading groups, or using them to stock zine racks at coffee shops and infoshops.
Also, it’s worth thanking the folks who take the time to write these texts and format them for offline reading. In a world dominated by screens, it’s much appreciated!September 2018 It’s A Sin To Kill A Mockingbird: Writings on Scout Schultz, Queer Anarchist Killed by Georgia Tech Police
Compiled by The Contemporaries Project, this zine collects four essays written in the aftermath of protests following the police killing of Scout Schultz last September. The four essays are: “Scout Schultz Was a Burning Flare” published by Mask Magazine, “Remembering Means Fighting” by Crimethinc, “Resistance for Scout” published on ItsGoingDown.org, and “Would it Have Been Different” from Yahoo News. Alongside the essays the editors have included a timeline of events.
This is the fall 2018 issue of the Bloomington, Indiana anarchist publication Plain Words. This issue has relatively little content specific to Bloomington but has many articles that would potentially be of interest to folks elsewhere. There is a discussion of court support, a discussion of populism and activism, a piece on Christian anarchism from a Catholic Worker, two pieces on anti-art and graffiti, a piece on accountability, and a profile of anarchist Renzo Novatore.
This short zine from Warzone Distro presents a different view of veganism than what is often found in mainstream vegan discourse. It essentially argues that being vegan is a personal act that is necessarily separated from notions of “good” and “bad” and against the limits of ineffective boycott tactics. While the writing is at times a bit cumbersome, it’s nice to see an essay that tries to move beyond a simplistic discussion of veganism rooted in market ideology.
This is the second issue of Fantasma, a publication that calls itself a “clandestine anarchist newspaper”. This issue features several articles discussing the ramifications of going underground as a response to repression. There is an interview with a person living underground, an article on dealing with physical health when underground, and a lengthy report on a conversation between comrades about what it means to go underground. The overarching topic of being clandestine is unique and challenging and it is a refreshingly deep discussion for the anarchist space.
This zine is a transcript of a podcast by the Belli Research Institute that looks at the origins of anti-trafficking efforts. It comes in the aftermath of the anti-trafficking FOSTA and SESTA bills and the ensuing discussions about how these bills make working conditions more precarious and dangerous for sex workers. From the intro:
We are not going to discuss FOSTA and SESTA directly here since a lot of good stuff already ex- ists critically looking at these bills’ effects. A typical response that is formulated is that congress’ anti-trafficking efforts have unintended consequences. Our approach will be more to map what has motivated anti-trafficking work from its origins in the late eighteen hundreds to the present. To do this we need to take a step back and ask some simple questions. What is sex trafficking? How is it defined? Why is anti-trafficking generally in opposition to sex work?
This issue of Anathema – a Philadelphia anarchist publication – is another good example of a solid locally-focused counter-information project. It provides an a window into what seems to be a vibrant anarchist space in Philadelphia, if one can judge based on the “What Went Down” timeline of actions featured in Anathema. There are a number of essays on local topics, including a discussion of local waterways from an anti-civilization perspective and a discussion of where anti-borders activity might go from this summer’s anti-ICE encampments. There is also a nice piece titled “7 Theses on the Selfie” in honor of National Selfie Day (who knew there was such a thing…).
This is a zine-formatted version of a text written earlier this year by Crimethinc about the anarchist Gaetano Bresci. From the intro:
On July 29, in the year 1900, the anarchist Gaetano Bresci assassinated King Umberto of Italy. But there is a lot more to his story than this single deed. Here, we remember an Italian worker and immigrant who risked his life to save Errico Malatesta from an assassination attempt, then gave his life to impose consequences on the king for the deaths of hundreds of poor working people. We’ve also included translations of Malatesta’s and Tolstoy’s reflections on Bresci’s attack.
This essay by Bellamy Fitzpatrick is the opening essay to the anarchist journal Backwoods, which is a new anti-civilization anarchist publication that came out earlier this year. Backwoods is an offline project, but because this essay was posted on The Anarchist Library in September, it seems worth including in this month’s zine round-up. Check it out and order a copy of Backwoods when you are done—it is beautifully printed and offers a substantive anti-civilization discussion.
This is the first issue of Fire Ant, a new anarchist zine supporting anarchist prisoners. It comes from some folks in Maine who have been corresponding with and supporting prisoners since the 1990s. The goals of the project are elaborated in the introduction:
“…it is a long term project for and with anarchist prisoners. The goals for this project are to raise material aid for imprisoned anarchists, spread information about imprisoned anarchists and anarchy, and foster communication between imprisoned and roaming anarchists”Sprout distrozinescategory: Projects
There is an ableist misconception that those with disabilities don’t participate in marches, rallies, lockdowns and resistance camps. In reality, we are here and more of us would like to get in on the action.
I am multiply disabled due to a host of illnesses, chronic pain and mobility impairments. The issues of ableism have been a constant plague for me. I’ve lost jobs, wages, friends, family, romantic partners and more due to others’ unwillingness to make necessary accommodations and supports for me.
I also experience ableism in activist organizing spaces that purport to support the rights of the marginalized. We are often excluded from leadership and from conversations regarding justice, and our accessibility needs to attend events and meetings are rarely met. I have witnessed this the most in direct action organizing.
There is no justice without disability justice. Nineteen percent of the US population — adding up to 56.7 million people — were living with disabilities as of the most recent Census recorded in 2010. This number is only growing, as is the intensity of the multiple marginalizations that many with disabilities suffer.
Approximately 40 percent of the incarcerated population in the US has a disability and almost half of the people murdered by law enforcement are disabled. Sixty-two percent of disabled women in the US have been abused with 40 percent experiencing sexual assault and 90 percent of those with developmental disabilities having been sexually assaulted. The American with Disabilities Act passed in 1990, yet the rates of employment in 2017 were only 18.7 percent, minus employment in jobs that legally pay less than minimum wage.
Facing these intense forms of structural and interpersonal violence, people with disabilities have been deeply involved in many different struggles for justice, but ableism within direct-action organizing spaces continues to make participation more difficult than it needs to be.
What follows is a list on how to check ableism in your direct action organizing and to be inclusive of the disability justice community. This is not meant to be a complete list, but rather a beginning guide for the able-bodied.1) Check your privilege.
If you’re able-bodied, then you have privilege based on your ability. Your access to the world and resources are, in general, far greater than for those with disabilities. Able-bodied people don’t have to worry about many of the concerns those with disabilities do. You’re likely not juggling multiple medical appointments, accessing housing, employment, social events, and more to meet your health needs all while often feeling horrible. There is no concern of whether or not you can even get into the physical space you need to traverse or convincing people, including medical providers, that your illness or disabilities are real. Able-bodied people may suffer from other forms of oppression, such as racism or sexism, but still have privilege based on ability. Remember that and keep it in check while organizing.2) Seek meaningful inclusion of those with disabilities.
We are very often erased from the process of organizing and speaking to our experiences because we are seen as incapable or childlike. This act of ableism is one that devalues us. All organizing spaces need meaningful inclusion of those with disabilities in order to combat the issues of ableism both in society and in grassroots work.
Coupled with having us in leadership is the importance of working with local disability justice organizers as well as those on a national level. The needs of the disability community vary greatly, and organizers working on local issues must be included. It’s also vital that in coalition building the right organizations are invited. Only disability organizations that are operated primarily by those with disabilities should be welcome.3) Add a disability justice lens to your work. Don’t think for one minute that there aren’t any people with illnesses or disabilities in your organizing space. We’re here, we’ve always been here, and we’re not going away.
The disability community is extraordinarily diverse. We are made up of every religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, race and more. Adding a disability justice lens to your organizing work is crucial to the meaningful inclusion of those with disabilities. Sit down and ask yourself how the issues you work on directly impact disabled people and how your organizing might be ableist. The environmental justice movement, for example, is in desperate need of a disability justice lens. Our illnesses and disabilities are made worse by global climate chaos and evacuation during human-made disasters is much more difficult, often impossible, for us. The push for drinking straw bans, the uproar over Whole Foods’ pre-peeled oranges and pressure by often multiply privileged vegans to adopt their diet all in the name of saving the environment are perfect examples of where progressive activists have failed and demonized those with disabilities. Straws are sometimes needed for people with more severe mobility impairments in order to drink and eat. Items like oranges that are pre-peeled help people with dexterity issues to access fresh produce. Depending upon dietary needs, as well as financial and physical access to food, many with illnesses are unable to follow a vegan diet. Veganism is often racist and colonizing because the vegan movement often attempts to shame Indigenous people for eating our traditional foods, such as bison and whale, and block access to them, despite the fact that the loss of our traditional foods is one of the reasons Native people in the colonized US have high rates of diabetes. Organizing work must reflect the needs of all community members, not merely the able-bodied.4) Honor and pay us for our work.
Don’t expect people with disabilities to give free labor or to pay for the expense of accessibility in organizing. We live with greater rates of poverty, our expenses are significantly higher, and even the cost of transportation to and from organizing meetings and actions is often a burden to our participation. Placing a line item for disability accessibility in your budget and fully funding it is necessary for meeting access needs. ASL interpreters, accessible meeting spaces, transportation and mobility equipment are very expensive and crucial to the meaningful inclusion of the disability community. Don’t take shortcuts either. For example, if your action has a stage, then you need to ensure that there is a safe and accessible way to get people with mobility impairments on and off the stage. Trying to simply pick us up, which I’ve seen happen numerous times, can lead to injuries as well as harm to our mobility devices, which are highly expensive and very rarely replaceable.5) Modify your action to make it accessible.
Don’t think that because someone has a disability that they won’t participate in direct actions. We throw down hard: The 500 arrests in two months of protests led by members of ADAPT are proof of that. There are numerous ways to make your direct action more accessible.
Being honest and realistic about the demands of your action and providing “know your rights” trainings that include information on the health care rights and realities that those arrested might face are important first steps to ensuring those with disabilities can make a fully informed decision on how they want to participate in an action.
Modifying an action in creative ways, such as offering pillows and seating, choosing more accessible locations for actions, and changing the apparatus for lockdowns are easy ways to meet some accessibility needs. Make sure you have your comrades’ backs while in more dangerous situations. It can be more difficult for us to sense and/or flee from danger. Assigning someone who is able-bodied to those with disabilities who request it can be an important safety measure, as well as training your able-bodied organizers on what disability can look like and the additional dangers it may bring.
Remember that we also have specific jail support needs. Make sure that bailing out those with disabilities and illnesses, when requested, is a high priority, as is fighting for our access to medications, mobility devices, and dietary and other health care needs while in custody. This may mean sending more money to people with disabilities who are incarcerated so they can pay for medical care or buy food and supplies from commissary. Or it can mean fighting for your comrades with hearing impairments so they may have ASL access. Make sure that when your members come out of jail that you have their medication, any special foods they eat, and anything else necessary to meet their needs. Arrest and incarceration are traumatic for all people, but they come with extra dangers and challenges for us.
Last, but certainly not least, don’t think for one minute that there aren’t any people with illnesses or disabilities in your organizing space. We’re here, we’ve always been here, and we’re not going away.
The post Five Ways to Make Direct Action Organizing Less Ableist appeared first on Truthout.
After two years of juggling full-time study with full-time work, Josefa, a student at Brooklyn College, decided to take a semester off. “I was exhausted,” she said, “and decided to move to Florida where I thought things would be cheaper.” This was in 2016.
Josefa quickly found a waitressing job and secured an apartment. But she also learned that as a non-resident of Florida, attending a public college would be even more expensive than continuing at Brooklyn College. Six months after heading to the Sunshine State, she returned to New York and once again registered for classes.
“Right after I got back to the city, I started working in housekeeping,” Josefa told Truthout. “This became troubling because I didn’t work a set schedule…. It meant I missed classes because I had to go in whenever I was needed. I felt my bills on top of me and could not focus on school in the way I wanted to, but I needed the $70 or $80 I got for each apartment I cleaned and felt that I had no choice.”
Josefa receives financial aid—enough to cover the full cost of tuition—but explains that her $700 rent, plus utilities, phone bill, transportation and food costs, to say nothing of books and other supplies, feels crushing. “My family can’t help me,” she said. “I’m completely on my own.”
Josefa kept the cleaning job for 18 months—she said she was too busy to look for other work—and admits that she was often nearly penniless after paying her rent. At one particularly low point, she said, “I had to tell my teachers that I was missing class because I could not afford a MetroCard. Most understood and told me that as long as I stayed caught up on work, it would be OK. One teacher, though, she reached into her pocket and gave me her MetroCard. I never expected anything like this. For me, it meant everything, because the $30 I saved on subway fare would pay for food for that week.”
Josefa’s voice broke as she recounted the interaction, and she took a deep breath before continuing. She is now in a much better place, she said: She recently got a job in a bank and works set hours, for a set salary with benefits. Her goal is to finish her bachelor’s degree in psychology and then pursue a master’s in counseling so that she can work in a public school with struggling, low-income students.
Josefa is far from alone. Nonetheless, her persistence makes her an anomaly since students facing similar challenges drop out at an astronomical rate.Post-High School Training or Degree Is Imperative
The consequences of high drop-out rates are potentially dire because economic analysts predict that by 2020, 65 percent of US jobs will require post-high school training or a degree.
Right now, only one-third of US residents hold a bachelor’s degree, let alone a master’s. And it’s not for lack of trying. Although increasing numbers of students are enrolling in college, just 54.8 percent graduate within six years, with 47 percent of community college students and 31 percent of four-year college students dropping out before finishing their studies.Economists predict that 2015 college grads will have to work until the age of 75. If life expectancy stays at 84, this means they will have just nine years of retirement.
Not surprisingly, the number one reason for leaving is financial.
But the cost of remaining is also staggering: 70 percent of college students graduate with debt, with an average of $37,172 owed. This is up by $20,000 since 2005; monthly payments, an average of $227 in 2005, soared to $393 a month in 2016.
Economists worry that such financial burdens will have a demonstrable impact on everyday life. To wit, they predict that 2015 college grads will have to work until the age of 75. If life expectancy stays at 84, this means they will have just nine years of retirement. In addition, millennials are unlikely to be able to buy homes and some may delay, or completely sidestep, childbearing due to financial concerns.How Did This Happen?
There are several reasons for this phenomenon. First and foremost is the cost of tuition. Between 1988 and 2018, tuition at public four-year colleges increased by an astounding 213 percent (from $3,190 in 1988 to $19,828 during the 2017-18 academic year). Meanwhile, tuition at private not-for-profit colleges went up 129 percent (from $15,160 in 1988 to $34,740 for 2017-18).
If you’re wondering how this occurred, you’re not alone, and several theories have been floated to explain the phenomenon. One hypothesis blames the decline in federal funding for higher education. Another blames the bloat in the number of college administrators, which went up by 60 percent between 1993 and 2009.Between 1988 and 2018, tuition at public four-year colleges increased by an astounding 213 percent.
Stagnant wages, of course, also enter the mix. According to the College Board, average annual incomes vary by region, with families in the US South living on an average of $66,510 a year, while those in the Northeast average $81,500. Race is also at play, with the average yearly income of Asian households at $93,500 while Black families live on an average income of $49,370. For Latinx families, the average is $51,110; for white families, $82,070.
Needless to say, paying for college tests all but the most economically secure among us.
Christine Hutchins, an assistant professor of English at Hostos Community College in New York’s South Bronx, said students’ failure to complete coursework is often misread as disinterest or inability. “You hear people say, ‘Oh, they’re not cut out for college.’ This does not read the facts about how complicated our students’ lives are,” she told Truthout.
Hutchins said students rarely tell their instructors what’s happening in their lives; but if a teacher is attentive and asks, intervention can sometimes be arranged. “You get a student who got an A in first-level classes and then suddenly gets Fs…. Obviously, something happened. Students almost never come in and … tell you that they’re working two jobs because a family member was deported or that they were evicted and are now in a shelter. Their situations are typically really complex but for most, financial instability is a primary issue.”
Laura Kina, director of Critical Ethnic Studies and a professor of Art, Media and Design at DePaul University in Chicago, said her students face similar difficulties. Although she mostly works with graduate students, when she perceives a problem or potential problem, she meets with the student and attempts to intervene. “I always look for resources — a scholarship that might be available or other aid. If the student is in an emergency, or homeless, we help the best way we can. I don’t always know the ins and outs of what to do, but I know where to go for resources. In some situations, I explain the college’s leave policy as an option.”Sympathetic Teachers Make a Huge Difference
According to Renee, a 37-year-old student at Utah Valley University (UVU), having an understanding teacher or adviser is key. Renee returned to school in 2010, following a divorce. A single parent of two children, now 11 and 14, she attended several colleges before enrolling at UVU: Brigham Young University-Idaho; Barstow College; and a proprietary college she declined to name. “I’d gotten married at 21, had two kids, and was a military wife who had grown up in a military family,” she began. “I did not know how to move in a world that was not in a military context. I started college eight years ago because it seemed like the next step.”
It did not take long for her to feel unmoored. “I couldn’t work at a job, do the parent thing and also do the school thing,” she said. “My children’s father had just left and I wanted to be there for them, tuck them in at night. To my kids, my being in school seemed like they’d lost both parents. I couldn’t do it.”
When she re-enrolled at UVU in 2013, the experience was similarly unsettling. She said that people told her she had to work to the bone in order to graduate. “I kept asking myself why they were telling me I had to suffer,” she said. “I felt a lot of despair.” Then, an on-campus sexual assault in 2014 led to another withdrawal.
Two years later, Renee returned to UVU. “I’d learned that UVU has resources for single moms,” she said. “The Women’s Success Center specializes in helping women like me navigate academic scholarships and campus life.” Renee is presently enrolled in two programs: a state vocational rehabilitation course in technical writing and a bachelor’s program in philosophy. Nonetheless, she still questions whether the degree and certification are worth the effort. “I’ll owe $60,000 by the time I’m done,” she said.
Staying on track has been equally difficult for accounting and finance student Dazia, a 25-year-old married mother of two, now in her senior year at William and Mary College in Virginia. “After my husband had to leave the military due to disability, my family income took a major hit,” Dazia said. “I started offering students rides to the airport and accepted a paid internship at a public accounting firm two hours away from my home.” But spending three days a week at the firm and two days in class for the 16-week semester took a toll on her. “I barely saw my family and friends,” she said. She also reports that she had to take several “incompletes,” which, on one hand, gave her additional time to complete the required coursework, but also meant that she had little-to-no time off between semesters.
“I have depression and ADHD so I use accommodations,” Dazia added. Nonetheless, staying on track so that she can graduate on time has been difficult. “I feel singled out as a person of color, as a parent, as an older student and as a student with invisible disabilities,” she said. “I’ve had professors change my life for the good. I’ve also had professors change my life for the worse.”High Costs Compound Barriers for Students With Disabilities
Like Josefa, Dazia is anomalous, since just 16.4 percent of students with disabilities finish college. And while finances usually intersect with other issues impacting the disabled—not the least of them being discrimination—money is often at the crux of the abysmal graduation rate.
Wendy Harbour, director of the National Center for College Students with Disabilities, has had firsthand experience as an advocate. When pursuing her Ph.D., Harbour, who is deaf, requested that the large private university she attended provide an interpreter and allow her service dog to accompany her on campus. The school refused both requests.
“I had to fight really hard,” she said. “The college said it would not pay for the interpreter because I could speak and read lips. They felt that this meant that I did not need help.”
Harbour took the matter to the State Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Massachusetts and ultimately prevailed. Had she lost, she estimates that hiring an interpreter on her own would have cost between $40,000 and $50,000 a year. It would also have made graduate study impossible. “When you’re a deaf college student, you need an interpreter for your classes, for meetings with faculty and staff, for your work-study job and for events on campus. For most students, paying for this out-of-pocket would be impossible, but I want to stress that the accommodations for most disabilities rarely cost this much.”
The center is presently creating an online database which will provide information about every US college and its accessibility for students with all types of disabilities. Harbour expects the site to roll out in the fall of 2019.Beyond Information: Creating Political Change
But while high-quality information is essential, most activists agree that free college for all is the best, and perhaps only, way to make college truly accessible. A survey conducted in June 2018 found 78 percent of US residents support the idea. A bill, the College for All Act, is currently pending in both Houses of Congress. It was introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-Washington) in April 2017.
Chris Gannon, vice president of the US Student Association (USSA) said that the USSA is working to “normalize the concept of free college and bring it into the national conversation.” Thanks to Bernie Sanders, he continued, the idea has begun to gain traction. Still, he admits that when people first hear about the plan, their first reaction is that it sounds preposterous. Still, he said that “when we talk about how it will impact the country’s future, reduce the burden on students and improve communities, people pay attention. The idea that young people won’t ever be able to buy homes, or won’t be able to buy them for very long time, changes people’s minds.”
Nonetheless, despite increased momentum, everyone agrees that free college for all is not going to be won anytime soon.
Deborah Vagins, senior vice president of Public Policy and Research at the American Association of University Women (AAUW), said her organization is focused on several short-term goals, including: reauthorizing the Higher Education Act which has, for 53 years, provided grants and loans to help students go beyond high school; increasing state and federal funding of public colleges and universities; increasing consumer protections for those borrowing money to attend college; and passing the Paycheck Fairness Act (PFA), a bill that will address, and protect against, the gender pay gap for US workers.
While the Higher Education Act of 1965 is now up for reauthorization, Vagins reports that Republicans are pushing to eliminate it and replace it with the far weaker Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity Through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act. Education activists are enraged since the PROSPER Act will replace Stafford and PLUS Loans — the subsidized low-interest loans that most middle-income families rely on — with one wholly unsubsidized loan; phase out all federal higher education grants except Pell; and eliminate the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program which allows a small number of people to reduce their debt. “We want more service loan forgiveness and expanded Pell and other grant programs,” Vagins explains.
In addition, she points out the disproportionate impact borrowing has on women. Today, she continues, “Sixty-two percent of the 7.1 million Pell recipients are women. Two-thirds of the national debt — $890 billion of the $1.4 trillion owed — is held by women and $29 million of the $44 million in student debt is owed by women. The wage gap persists, which is why the AAUW supports the Paycheck Fairness Act.”
If passed, the PFA will amend the 1963 Equal Pay Act and require the federal government to collect data on pay differentials by gender and make prior salary history irrelevant in setting wages. “Furthermore,” Vagins adds, “it will give women more tools to attack the wage gap in negotiations and in court.”
By working on multiple fronts, activists are not only pushing for free college education for all, they’re also analyzing how programs like New York’s Excelsior Scholarship, which was passed in 2017 and billed as providing a free education to anyone with a family income below $125,000, have failed to meet student need. The upshot, they’ve discovered, is that requiring students to be enrolled full-time with no breaks in attendance severely hampers eligibility. In addition to this, however, education activists throughout the US are working to improve student access to financial resources so that more people will be able to complete their degrees. Few of these changes will benefit folks like Dazia, Josefa and Renee, but they may help Generation Y and younger students as they come of age.
The post Unaffordable Higher Education Leads to Low Graduation Rates appeared first on Truthout.
The State and Capitalism are an inseparable unit of criminals and destroyers. Many bigoted leaders are gathering to consolidate their crimes. Eventually there will be a situation where the workers, the fishermen, the urban poor and all sectors of society who are subjected to oppression will reach a boiling point of anger and disgust.
Capitalism, which is a social relation, has turned the masses of humanity into passive human beings, limiting themselves only to the creation of profit. The purpose of work is to keep the world revolving around society being divided into two classes: the Bourgeoisie and the Proletariat, or more simply put- the oppressor and the oppressed.
And so the State, as the administrator, is therefore responsible for the continuation of capitalism via unlimited exploitation and expansion, there is no difference when it comes to the corruption created by capitalists- the state creates coercive laws that must be obeyed, legitimizes oppression, legitimizes land theft, legitimizes murder and legitimizes companies freely sticking their claws into various aspects of life via regulatory laws.
We hate this system. We hate capitalism and authoritarianism. Whenever and wherever we have the strength and ability to attack it, we will do it. This old system really has created a tremendous degradation of humanity. Therefore, we will not remain silent.
A small action is still an action. And as small as a match is, it is still a match.
Making banners and carrying out acts of vandalism to show our rejection of the IMF-WBG meeting that will be held in Bali are just some our responses to the capitalist system that has sunk it's claws into all sectors of life. We know that the IMF-WBG is an international finance organization that has neo-liberalist agendas, which of course, only benefit a handful of people; namely the rich, capitalists, state bureaucrats and their lackeys. Meanwhile, the majority of humanity must submit to their orders.
We are not silent. We will attack using various methods. We do this because we have dreams. Yes, dreams of a world without heirarchy. Dreams of a world without capitalism and authoritarianism. But believe us, when this old world collapses, it will happen because of those crazy and utopian dreamers.
Resist IMF-WBG 2018
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